Sixteen

This week I celebrated sixteen years of motherhood.  My son and I spent a few days together, traveling in California, eating sandwiches in the car, making up jokes, circling around in conversation to the same things and taking selfies in stupid places (my idea, always my idea).  As we were driving and singing along, the Pacific Ocean just beyond the glass of the car, I realized that we were living one of our most important times together.  It’s weird to know the importance of a moment while it’s happening.  That’s not usually how it works.

The point of this trip, from my perspective, was to start an official hand-off of the responsibility and agency for his own happiness to him. We had lots of conversations about what matters to him, what makes him happy, what motivates him. It was really beautiful.  Then I dropped him at the airport in San Francisco and began the drive back to LA. I stopped several times on the way back, stood by myself on the edge of beautiful places and thought about my own (still unraveling) path to my best life–the life that makes me feel most myself, most enough, but also allows me to be a little lost, a little at the edge of my ability. It’s scary and empowering to realize that this thing that I’m living is my life and though I’m in its midst, I’m still figuring it out. Where do I want to be next?  Where do I want to live and how do I want to live when my day to day mothering role is less hands on?  I have some ideas, but I’m not sure. So many variables.  So many questions. It’s national poetry month. It’s time for all the questions.

I had the immense pleasure of reading with some incredible writers in Los Angeles last weekend, including the incredible Kim Dower, whose new book, “Last Train to the Missing Planet” has been gutting me since I bought it that night–so good.  I had heard the poem below, from the book, on the Writer’s Almanac, and had already earmarked it to share with you.  I was totally thrilled to hear her read it live (as much as I love Garrison, it’s really something else to hear Kim read it).

Read the poem, then think about the roots of some of your own habits.  What moments formed you?  What are the things you do?  Or, you know, write what you want to write. Just write.

 

There Will Be Things You Do

you won’t know why.
Maybe waiting to tie
your shoelaces

until everything else
is in place.
Could be you’ll slide

your egg yolks aside
eat every bit of bacon,
toast, whites while the forsaken

yellow orbs stare at you
from the side pocket
of your empty plate.

People will ask
why do you save
your yolks for last

and you won’t know—
won’t recall
the cousin from the south

came to visit one summer
ate his eggs so odd
your family said

stuck with you
like the way
you love to be kissed

on the back of your neck
can vaguely recollect
your mother’s kisses

after your bath
too gentle for memory.
There will be things you do

you won’t know why
like the way you look
up at the sky

when anxious or blue
it’s what your father
used to do

every family trip
when nothing else
was right

except those clouds
moving north by northwest
through the night

he showed you
what pilots knew:
factors for safe flying

are visibility
and how low
and mean the clouds are.

A video of me reading at the Red Hen Showcase last week, blurry as hell.  We flew into LA that morning, spent the day loafing at the beach, then got dressed in the rental car.  It was like midnight (plus two glasses of wine) for me when I read.  Poet life.  So grateful.

 

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